In times of warfare, often during retreat, individual warriors of many American Indian tribes would "stake" themselves to the ground with a lance or arrow by piercing a vein and then sticking the lance or arrow into a red "sash" of blood on the ground, so they could not move. They would remain "staked" to the ground and would fight until death or capture to give time for their fellow warriors and tribal members to escape.
The "sash" of blood was symbolic, for what really held them in place was the knowledge that extreme situations sometimes called for extraordinary individual sacrifice, and their convictions that the tribe's traditional way of life was important enough to give up their individual life or freedom in order to preserve it. Such sacrifice brought much honor to the individual, his family, and his tribe.
A few years ago while in Skiatook, Oklahoma, Kugee Supernaw, great-grandson of Tall Chief, the last hereditary chief of the Quapaw-Sioux told me this story when I purchased a replica eagle feather with the POW-MIA emblem painted on it. The quill of the feather is painted red to symbolize the "sash." Kugee said this feather represented the American Indian concept of honoring our nation's missing warriors.
As of March 20, 2009, there are still 1,742 Americans still listed as unaccounted for from the Vietnam War (http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/vietnamwar/2009/MAR09/20090320-VN.pdf)
Each February, I especially remember one of them, Marine Corporal James R. Moore, who was reported missing-in-action on February 28, 1967 near Chu Lai, South Vietnam. Jim Moore served with 9th Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division. He was my friend and fellow Marine.
On August 10, 1990, the 101st Congress passed U.S. Public Law 101-355, which recognized the POW-MIA flag as the nation's official symbol of America's commitment to provide the fullest possible accounting of U.S. personnel still missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. The nation displays the POW-MIA flag on six days each year: Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW-MIA Recognition Day, and Veterans Day.
On Monday, May 25, 2009, Americans everywhere will enjoy yet another Memorial Day holiday. However you decide to spend this memorable day, please take a moment to give thanks to all Veterans, including those American's that are still listed as MIA. Let them hear you say, "You are not forgotten."
In Memory of JAMES RODNEY MOORE, United States Marine Corps. Missing In Action 28 February 1967, Quang Nam Province, RVN. His name is engraved on The Wall, Panel 15E -- Line 120.